Primarily, one must understand that a learning disability/ difficulty doesn't mean that your child is lazy, dull or unmotivated. Neither is it a result of physical/ mental illness or economic situation. Rather it's a neurological condition that affects the brain's ability to send, receive and process information. Their brains are simply wired differently. However, this doesn’t mean that they in any way have a lesser IQ than the rest, and names like Albert Einstein, Nelson Rockefeller, Thomas Edison and Walt Disney attest to the same (they too were said to have learning difficulties!).
Each one has different strengths and abilities and that is true even when it comes to their grasping and learning abilities. However, it isn’t impossible to detect these and adapt the right teaching strategies to benefit them.
How can Learning Disabilities be detected?
As a parent or teacher, you need to be observant about the student's behavior and abilities, for that is the only way you can detect whether or not they have difficulty. Some of the most common signs are:
They are often slow in grasping what's being taught
Problem with understanding and following directions
Trouble with focusing/ holding attention
Problem reading/ writing/ pronouncing words
Eachone might have a different sign/ symptom, however, the simple thing is that they hear, see and understand things differently. And this slows the process hence making it difficult to learn new skills and put them to use.
Though learning new things is always a challenge, observe and see if a certain area of learning is consistently problematic, for that could then be a sign of a learning disability.
What teaching strategies might help students with learning disabilities?
1. Break tasks into smaller steps
Don’t try to teach everything at once. That doesn’t work right for anyone at all. Especially those with learning disabilities have a lesser attention span, hence you have to make it both short and captivating. Thus, breaking the information into smaller bite-sized chunks is an effective teaching strategy.
2. Present information in ways they can best adapt
Each one has a different learning style. Especially those with learning difficulties have certain senses that are stronger than the others for them. And as a teacher, you should work on identifying those and tutor your students via the same.
These can be through 3 major learning styles that are, visual, auditory or kinesthetic. And as per their stronger traits, you can alter your teaching strategies, like helping them via graphics and videos, podcasts, or by giving them small tasks and helping them with hands-on experience.
3. Probe regularly to ensure understanding
Once you have covered the topic do not leave it at that, get back to it and check whether or not they remember it correctly. Revisions and reminders are important for each one, and in this case too only practice will make perfect. Many make it a strategy to revise with an online class every other day after they take an offline session. This way they would be in touch with the topic and also get familiar with different learning platforms. (So make sure to invest in a good online teaching app).
4. Encourage independent practice
Allow them to experiment and learn on their own. Do not spoon-feed everything. Once you familiarize them with certain topics or techniques, give them some time and space to try them out on their own. Experimentation will make things more interesting for them, and inculcate the trait of patience.
5. Model what you want students to do
Remember that influence outweighs everything else. What you do and show them will stay with them for longer than what you instruct them to do. Like it's rightly said, actions speak louder than words. Do things with them. Have them contribute while showing them that you are with them on this ride.
6. Incorporate mnemonics
Another effective teaching strategy is to do it via mnemonics. This learning method increases retention and retrieval with the help of varied cues to make it easy. Though, as an educator, you have to make sure that the memory tricks that you choose are actually easy for them to remember.
What strategies might help students with learning disabilities to develop a more positive sense of self?
A few other things that you need to remember to help them be more positive and confident is to give timely and quality feedback, to both them and their parents about the progress you notice. Next, make it a point to encourage and appreciate every progressive thing they do. Make them feel special but be realistic. And the most important step is to reinforce their confidence that they can do anything and are smart.
Lastly, remember that this isn’t hard at all, a few right teaching strategies, dedication and patience will help you make an impactful change.
And another myth is that it can only be done in an offline setting. This isn’t right, for with the right determination it doesn’t matter what setting you are in. A good online teaching app is all you would need to do it just as effectively via an online class!
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